Neil Gaiman comforts debut author after two people show up to her book signing

‘I have sat lonely at a signing table many times only to have someone approach… and ask me where the bathroom is,’ commented author Jodi Picoult

Isobel Lewis
Tuesday 06 December 2022 12:50 GMT
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Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman and Jodi Picoult have shared their own stories of disappointing book signings in response to a viral Twitter thread.

On Sunday (4 December), fantasy author Chelsea Banning tweeted in disappointment after just two people showed up to a signing for her debut novel Of Crowns and Legends.

“Only 2 people came to my author signing yesterday, so I was pretty bummed about it,” Banning tweeted. “Especially as 37 people responded ‘going’ to the event. Kind of upset, honestly, and a little embarrassed.”

The tweet was spotted by Picoult, who shared her own experience in response.

“I have sat lonely at a signing table many times only to have someone approach… and ask me where the bathroom is,” she wrote to Banning.

“Join the club,” wrote The Handmaid’s Tale author Attwood. “I did a signing to which nobody came, except a guy who wanted to buy some Scotch tape and thought I was the help.”

Gaiman replied to Banning’s tweet: “Terry Pratchett and I did a signing in Manhattan for Good Omens that nobody came to at all.  So you are two up on us.”

David Nicholls said that he had “too many [similar experiences] to share”, adding: “The one where the bookshop staff kindly pretended to be customers so I wouldn’t feel too bad, that stays with me.”

Jonathan Coe commented: “I was once invited to a crime writers’ festival. Colin Dexter was on at the same time. Only one person showed up for me. We chatted for a while and I told him how glad I was that he’d come. He said, ‘Actually I’m Ian Rankin and I was supposed to be introducing you.’”

“We’ve all been there,” said Malorie Blackman. “I once did a talk at a library and five people turned up, including a mum who planted her two infant school children in front of me and then strategically ‘withdrew’ to get some peace for a while.”

Pachinko author Min Jin Lee wrote: “I did a book reading where only my husband’s cousin showed up. One person. I’ll never forget that reading.”

“Did a signing at a book store in Berkeley, 2nd book, I think,” Christopher Moore wrote. “No one showed up. NO ONE. The owner locked the doors and I sat on the floor in an aisle and read a passage to the owner, his employee, and the guy who was kind enough to drive me there (a friend).”

Cheryl Strayed replied to Banning: “I’m sorry that happened to you, Chelsea. I know how awful it feels, as it has happened to me too. Almost every author I know has had this experience at some point in their career. It isn’t a reflection of you or your work!”

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